Ulster Unionist Education Spokesperson, Rosemary Barton MLA, has warned that the total silence from the Education Department is exacerbating the budget concerns currently being felt by schools across Northern Ireland.
Rosemary Barton said:
“There is a real sense of fear setting in across many of our schools. I have spoken to several school principals since the Secretary of State’s announcement in Parliament and there is a palpable sense of dread at what many see as further inevitable and unsustainable cuts.
“For many, more major in-year savings are simply unachievable. Perhaps if they were given more notice, or if they actually knew what the budget they were meant to be operating from this year is, they would be in a much stronger position.
“Whilst there has been much reporting of 2.5% reduction to the Education Department, from my sources the reality is likely to be somewhat different. There is almost a further £100m yet to be allocated, between a combination of a carry-over of cash from last year and a £40m Barnett consequential. I have been assured that Education has already been identified as a likely final beneficiary of a proportion of this money.
“So whilst I am glad that the budget may not be quite as bad as it first seems, the ongoing silence from the Education Department and Education Authority is only allowing a vacuum to develop.
“In the continuing absence of a local Executive I would urge the Permanent Secretary’s in the Department of Finance and Education, as well as the Chief Executive of the Education Authority, to provide some much needed clarification and reassurance.”